buccal cavity

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Electric Eel

The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is an electric fish, and the only species in its genus. Despite the name, it is not an eel, but rather a knifefish. The electric eel has three pairs of abdominal organs that produce electricity, the typical output is sufficient to stun or deter virtually any animal. They can vary the intensity of the electric discharge, using lower discharges for hunting and higher intensities for stunning prey or defending themselves. They can also concentrate the discharge by curling up and making contact at two points along its body. When agitated, they can produce these intermittent electric shocks over at least an hour without tiring. Electric eels inhabit fresh waters of the Amazon and Orinoco River basins in South America, in floodplains, swamps, creeks, small rivers, and coastal plains. They often live on muddy bottoms in calm or stagnant waters.

The Tennessee Aquarium in the United States is home to an electric eel that uses its electrical discharges to post from its own Twitter account. Named Miguel Wattson, the eel’s exhibit is wired to a small computer that sends out a prewritten tweet when it emits electricity at a high enough threshold.

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It is by no means certain that horses connect pressure in the mouth with the rider.  They have not evolved to expect that another animal can apply pressure to the inside of the buccal cavity via a piece of metal.  This cognitive aspect may account for the apparent tolerance (or habituation) horses show when allowing heavy handed riders to mount them time after time.  It is therefore unnecessary and inappropriate to complicate a rider’s interventions by giving them anthropomorphic labels, such as ‘asking’ (e.g asking the horse to lower its head), ‘encouraging’ (e.g. using the inside leg to encourage forward movement) and 'supporting’ (e.g. applying the outside rein to support the impulsion).  It may be the intention to use words that are common in everyday usage and convey an attitude of cooperation rather than supremacy, but the abiding problem with the use of an anthropomorphic framework to explain rider-horse interactions is that it can disguise and justify abuse of horses that offer undesirable responses, even though these may have been accidentally induced/trained by humans.  So, most horses benefit when science provides mechanistic explanations of equitation, even though some horse people argue that this is undermining the bond they share with their horses (McGreevy, 2007).
—  Paul McGreevy & Andrew Mclean ~ Equitation Science